Turner Family Photo by Lee Steffen
This has been a hard year for a lot of people, including my husband Matthew and me. The economic crisis hit just as Matthew was supposed to embark on a big speaking tour. The tour was canceled and pushed back to spring. Then it was canceled again. We also had just had a baby who required day care, formula, diapers, shots and all the other baby necessities.
Many mornings I left for work in tears, not knowing how we would pay the bills. And as I drove, I prayed.
I prayed for provision.
I prayed for peace.
I prayed for courage.
Then I would dry my eyes and walk into work with a smile on my face.
Someone once told me that if you smile despite your circumstances, you will eventually have a brighter outlook. I believe that with all my heart.
During that time of smiling, I mustered up courage I didn't know I had.
I found courage while watching my son grow and laugh at the simplest pleasures.
I found courage in my husband's embrace.
I found courage in seeing our grocery bill shrink as I learned how to use coupons and save more.
I found courage when we received unexpected gifts.
I found courage when I counted my blessings instead of dwelling on what we couldn't afford.
Would I have found this courage if our circumstances had been different? Maybe. But I bet it would have been different. Think about Daniel in the lion's den. Think about David and Goliath. God often uses extreme situations for us to discover strength we otherwise would not have found. Thank you God for always knowing what your children need.
Things are beginning to look up for Matthew and me financially. And as I reflect on the past year, I am so grateful. Yes, it has been incredibly hard. But it has been beautiful, too. I appreciate so much more and know that when hard times hit again (they always do) I will have the courage to handle it.
Have you experienced a time in your life that, when you look back, you see God more clearly than you could during the hard times? What have those reflections taught you?Leave a Comment
Great post…and something to give much thought to….I want to be greatful.
Amy Honestly says
Beautiful Jessica. My husband and I have suffered similar struggles. I learned to thank God in the trials and praise Him when we make it through!
Especially Heather says
This really spoke to me. My family has faced so much in the last 10 years, it is hard to fit it all in this tiny box. I will say that there were more times on my knees than on my feet, but he brought us through a child with a heart transplant and my brain cancer. He gave me the courage to face another day when I just didn’t have it in me to face another second.
I am grateful for every. single. breath.
I could write a book, but I won’t! This is just such an awesome post!
Jessica~I went through a very dark time in my life and the outcome turned out to be beautiful. At the time, I didn’t rely on the Lord like I needed to; but, you know what–he was there for me even though I didn’t give him my all. When I reflected on this time in my life, I realized how much he was there for me through it all and it was then that my faith skyrocketed! He was teaching me a lesson and I finally started listening! I am stronger and better for it today!
Dana Ellis says
Definitely had those times. I often remark that sometimes God has to lay me on my back to get me to look up. Sometimes I think the book of James was written specifically with me in mind. Though I would have never chosen to go through it, I think the economic crisis has been good in many ways. It has definitely put things in perspective for me. Great post! Thanks
Thoughts on Life and Dirty Diapers
Jenny Clark says
Hey Jessica – thanks for sharing your story! I don’t disagree with the idea that God uses suffering to draw us closer to him and the importance of prayer (Philippians 4:6 -7 indicates this importance), however I don’t think its about us discovering strength within ourselves, to get through. Scripturally we see God uses suffering to bring more glory to himself, as the sovereign creator and Lord. Meaning that he is more glorified when we suffer and learn to throw ourselves on him, receiving his grace to get us through.
2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that Gods grace (through Christ) is sufficient for us, and that HIS power is made perfect in our weakness, not our own power.
I just think this is an important point to mention because its easy to confuse praying to God in our difficult circumstances in a self-helpish type of way (not that this is what your post intended to do) but we need to realize that God has a plan and a purpose in our suffering, and even when we can’t see the plan (and may never while on Earth) we know that we have an awesome God who is completely in control of our suffering, and in many cases has allowed it (such was the case with Job).
Its also a good time to mention that those who don’t know Christ, are not afforded this same offer of the Lord hearing their prayers, because its only through Christ one can have a true relationship with God. This is another reason why in ministering to others we must encourage them to take Christ as their Lord and savior, this is the most important thing (not the only thing of course)but the most important thing we have to offer them in their time of need or suffering, the gospel which can save them.
beautifully said jessica… i love your attitude and you do have a great smile!
Andrea @ Mommy Snacks.net says
Thanks for sharing, Jessica!!!
We had similar financial worries when our youngest had surgery. It’s why I started to coupon too (and the passion behind my site).
I know now more than ever that where God guides, He will provide. I find my face in scripture when I need courage. I can only find it in Him and His word. It’s the only thing that will reassure me with the instability of the world!
This was beautiful! My husband and I are still going through those types of issues. What gets me through is noticing the blessings. Big and small! And to keep a positive outlook, although I have my days and that’s when I know I need to have a longer conversation with Him. Thank you so much for sharing this story! God is so good even when it seems so bad in our lives.
there’s nothing quite like having the rug pulled out from under our feet on what OUR plans should have been, only to experience a clear vision of what God’s plans are 🙂
Thanks for sharing this, Jessica. Going through financial lean times can sometimes make or break a marriage. Last year we moved for my husband to take a new job, and he was not fully hired on (with benefits!) for SEVEN months. We absolutely had to depend on God, and trust that we were in the right place. It was a gift that during that time, we were all very healthy, that we always had enough to eat, somewhere safe to live, and that, like you, sometimes we got unexpected gifts that helped us through the dark days.
Jessica, I really enjoyed reading your post! Thank you for sharing!
Great post – good thoughts and writing!
Medically speaking, I should have died 5/20/04. Praise God I lived! Then amputation looked like the only option for my left leg. More praises, an amazing doc and God saved it. Then the question was, “Would I ever walk again?”
Now (5yrs post-accident)my recent workouts included a 4 mile walk, a 20-mile bike ride and a 3 mile run. I thank God for the courage/strength/comfort he gave me during the journey from almost dead to now! As I did what I could with what I had – step by step (literally) he provided the healing and the courage for me to do more.
My reflections – Never give up!
Also, I believe tough circumstances that have permanent negative results happen, because this is planet earth and “stuff happens.” God is good and if we ask, he can show/teach us amazing things through tough times. But just as we won’t do anything to permanently hurt our children, (if I do, you’ll arrest me or put me in an institution! and you should!) I don’t think God does that to his children either.
When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~Author Unknown
Domestic Extraordinaire says
It is amazing how God gives you just what you need, right when you need it. With everything. I am so thankful for all of you ladies here, giving encouragement to one another. I really needed this.
What a wonderful post! I can relate to finding strength in the hard times. Not only the economic situation, but a divorce left me a single parent of 5. Looking back, I met so many wonderful people and have had so many positive experiences that I would not have had. I am a better parent and person because of the “hard” times. Nobody likes them, but through them comes growth and glory! Thanks Jessica for sharing your smile, that beautiful baby and the ministry of your life.
My husband and I have gone through many tough times because of a health issue. At first you think to yourself, this is something I can’t do, I can not make it through this. But day by day, you do get through. And you know it is all because God is right there, giving you the courage, walking through it with you… all the way to the other side!
Melissa@a long way from the Theta house says
Love this post. We’ve been there and it strengthens your faith in amazing ways. Thanks for sharing.
thank you for sharing your story!!
two years ago i started down a road after becoming ill with a “life altering” illness. my husband left a few months later and divorced me. HOWEVER…i know God in a way i never would have. do i like my circumstances? no, but i sure do love the Lord more. we (my kids and i) have found Him so faithful and we are choosing joy.
can’t wait to hear from you again.
Jenn - Walk With Me says
Thank you for encouraging me today! I had twins this past year and we are currently facing a similar trial to what you shared. I love that the Lord is faithful to walk with us through the rough patches in life. Thanks for the reminder to keep on smiling! 🙂
I could very much relate to this- what a rough year last year was (starting in August)- a miscarriage, emergency surgery, and then four weeks later my husband lost his job (and has still not found a new one). It’s very much been a scary roller coaster. But like you, I found myself clinging to God’s promises. When I look back over this last year, God has shown Himself so clearly in ways I would not have *seen* otherwise because I was too busy, too whatever. But in this place of complete dependence on Him for it all (where I always am of course, but always seem to forget), in this quiet of the last year, I could hear and see. I wouldn’t trade this last year for anything in the world. It was worth every minute of uncertainty. I don’t know what the next year brings for us, but I do know that God is faithful. Thanks for this reminder this morning.
I think I needed to hear that this morning.
Its been a struggle this year, and the stress is bearing down on my shoulders.
If Daniel could face those lions, I can face a little bit of stress.
Thanks for being transparent, and for sharing.
Thanks Jessica for sharing your heart, experiences, fears, hopes, courage. So many people are walking through difficult times but we are coming out of it–every day, all the time.
Jenny Clark: I think you missed the point. The blog was about Jessica’s experience not about your religious/theological critique. Within this context, your comments are not helpful.
Angela Nazworth says
Beautiful Jessica! The past several years have been so tough for us financially as well but so much good has come from it.
Mary @ Passionate Perseverance says
Beautifully written Jessica! We have struggled on and off financially for many years due to a combination of bad choices as well as parenting a severely disabled child. God has been ever faithful to us and time and time again, we find ourselves on solid ground once more. Thank you for sharing and encouraging me today. Hope changes everything!
Jessica, thank you for sharing. I stand amazed at what God uses to cause us to cling to Him. It is in stories like this that His grace and goodness really do shine. God has used hard circumstances in my life to draw me closer to Him, as well. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 16 years old and have lived with it for about 10 years now. I live almost every day or my life in excruciating pain and God gives me the strength to walk it through. He gives me the strength to accept that I may not be able to have children. God has used this disease to crush my plans, but in the process He gave me a life overflowing with blessings. He replaced my plans with His perfect plan and I could not be more thankful. God is so good, and I don’t know that I ever could have realized how good He is without Him having allowed this in my life.
WE too are coming out of a similiar situation financially as well. My hubby was without a job until today when he started his new teaching job. I learned to use coupons, etc and appreciate the smallest things. We still have a ways to go to get back on the road financially but I have learned I can be honest with God and knows he listens and although He has a plan that is often not what I had in mind, it was the best one with unexpected surprises and blessings I would have missed. I am thankful for that. I know that God accepts me where I am and is refining me and whenI come through the fire, I will be braver, stronger in faith, and beautiful from it.
thanks for sharing this story.
Amanda (The Healthy Frugal Home) says
I’m going through a tough time. I was sick back in March and away from the teaching job I love for a term and when I tried to go back my head decided that he wanted to sack me. I have sat here waiting day after day. The wait should be over in early September when I know whether I have a job still or not. It has been hard financially and emotionally.
Yet God has spoken to me and called me back to him and given me a view for the future and a reason and purpose to go on. Today I took the first step on my blog. There is a long way to go but He has a plan for me. He loves me despite my failings and I have learnt so much these past few months that even though it has been truly painful I would not change it. I have found so much friendship, courage and compassion on the internet and in this site in particular. God has given me a purpose and I cannot ignore his calling any more. I feel so honoured that He has chosen me to help others.
Your words have touched me and resonated in me.
Courtney Kirkland says
This is such a true and honest message. My husband and I have been in the financial rut for many months, but God always prevails. Always blesses us in simple ways that make the finances easier on us. It’s such a blessing to see him opening his heart to me and my family and taking care of us. Praying for you and yours.
God really has a way of leading us and helping us grow. For my second child instead of having a sweet girl God “blessed” us with twins. I can’t imagine having to put my kids in daycare(I’m a SHAM), diapers(I EC and cloth diaper), buy formula(I nurse), and give them shots(I do not) all while on a tight budget(and a family of 5 living on 1 income is definitely tight)! The twins are 1 now and as I look back I see God pushing me towards our family and healthy living. At the time I felt overwhelmed and mistreated by Church members offering advice and unwanted help (ie dropping off disposable diapers or taking my oldest away even though he was crying for me). I am amazed at His methods but more amazed at the happiness in our home and the pride I feel in having never given up and trusting in God.
Blessings to your family!
Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says
Throughout our 10 years of marriage, my husband and I have been broke more often than not, have struggled financially more often than not. And while I take responsibility for the bad decisions that have caused our various situations, I’ve also taken plenty of time to complain and whine and worry. But since the economy turned last year and so many people have lost so much – well, it’s given me a more honest and clearer picture of just how much I have, just how much I’ve been blessed.
And I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for the chance to become more thankful. 🙂
“Have you experienced a time in your life that, when you look back, you see God more clearly than you could during the hard times? What have those reflections taught you?”
I have learned to trust in God, His care and timing…and that He prunes back the vines in my life that I truly do not need, and nourishes the right fruit. Seeing how He has been with me in hard times in the past, gives me hope and peace during a current wait or challenge.
This was a great post. I especially loved the line “if you smile despite your circumstances, you will eventually have a brighter outlook” because it is true, and I don’t put it into practice enough. I also have the world’s worst poker face so I’m thinking this will come in handy in a variety of ways.
Taught me to live with expectancy; not with expectations.
This is where I learnt about courage:
Thanks for sharing this experience, I never looked at my own family’s situation through the eyes of courage but I suppose that walking by faith through tough financial times takes extraordinary courage as well. My husband lost his job and we forged out on our own (with a lot of Divine help!) to start our own business. It was hard, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I learned lessons in that season that could have come no other way. I’m pretty grateful for that!
Beth Ingersoll says
Pick a life problem from my past and I’ll tell you what God did through it! It’s funny how rarely we see the hand of God in the midst of the storm, but can see it clearly once the waters have calmed. Looking back reminds me that He’s always been there during the trials, even if I couldn’t see it at the time.
Emily @ The Pilot's Wife says
This was wonderful! This has been a rough financial year for us as well (with a new baby boy to boot!)
Things are turning around for us as well. The burden being lifted is such a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?
Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. This has been a difficult year for us as well and we’re still walking in the valley. Your post was so encouraging and exactly what I needed to hear tonight!
Wow. I loved your words. I wrote a very similar post, tonight about being thankful in the difficult times. My husband was laid off in May. Instead of fearing the future. I was grateful. His job was putting such stress and strain on our marriage- I thought the marriage would end.Anyway, our marriage is so much better, now, even though my husband is without permanent work. I know the loss of job was God’s way of answering my prayer for our family and my marriage. We still don’t have a firm answer about our future… but I know God is in control. I am thankful he provides for us and He answers prayers.
Hillary @ The Other Mama says
What a wonderful reminder to be grateful for the little things! Thanks!
GREAT post. Glad I wound my way around to here!
We just passed a one-yr anniversary of a cancer diagnosis in the family. All you’ve said here is absolutely correct. I’ll add one thing: When I find myself sliding into self-pity or feeling of isolation, I can almost always think of someone else who might be suffering ‘invisibly’ and I give them a call or shoot a quick “thinking of you” email over. I SEE needs I didn’t use to see.
Stephanie @ This One Click says
Thanks for sharing this Jessica. I started following you right around the time this was happening. Glad you’ve seen God’s hand even in the hard times.
This post was such a perfect reflection of you and your life attitude. There is a quote: “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.” – Soren Kierkegaard… I think of it often in those times that seem [and are] so difficult, that they are lived in God’s timing. I know I will look back someday and see the blessings, but moving forward through them is the only way to get to that place.
When my husband had a blood disorder that could have been fatal, the night we found out about it, I called a friend as Dan was packing for the hospital. He gave me these verses: Psalm 3:5 – I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.” And Psalm 4:8 – “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” And recently I was reminded of Psalm 121, but in particular v:4 – “Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” God is there always and HE doesn’t sleep, but lets YOU sleep in peace, no matter what’s going on around you. PRAISE GOD! And not that I’m in an unfamiliar place, I can sleep on these promises. His Word gives hope, peace and the courage to keep going.
I wholeheartedly empathize with what you wrote about. My family’s financial situation is in shambles and your post turned out to be very inspiring. i’ll try to smile more despite the circumstances even though it’s probably the hardest thing one can do.
Well, ever since baby #1 arrived (we just had #3 – 3 weeks ago) – we have been living paycheck to paycheck. But you know what? In situations like these – you HAVE to trust. I don’t know how people can do it, in the material world in which we live, when you don’t have anyone to fall on your knees in front of. Seriously.
A lot of people praise God when things are going great and everything is peachy, but for me it’s the opposite. It’s the tough times that bring me to my knees. It’s the tough times that remind me WHO is in control. It’s the tough times that remind me that I am right where He wants me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sure, we may not be able to eat out often, or buy our kids new clothes (thank God for hand-me-downs), or upgrade our ’91 vehicle, but you know what? I GET to stay home with our three kids and I wouldn’t have it any other way but to live this way for the rest of my life if I have to. Some things are just worth it, and for me, this is it.
I am in the thick of things right now, having lost my job of 10 years and wondering how we will hold on at this point. Though I cling to God, and I do see Him working peripherally, it is hard to even breathe these days. I sometimes question there always has to be so much pain, why God has to take us to torturous desperation. I understand He wants us to rely solely on him,I really get that, but at this point I feel I have nothing left. I believe He is working to get me through, and someday I will look back and see more, but this has taken the life out of me right now and I feel as if I am underwater and breathing through a straw.
I love this. I too live in a “God Watch” time. Scary, but full of ah ha moments and wow times. Thanks for reminding me that GOd is in control.
Love your blog. Enjoyed this particular post as I am going through hard economic times right now. I am trusting in God for “everything” while I count coins to pay for medication or food. Yes, times are very hard, but I know that all things work together for good for those who love God. It is His word that strengthens me. It is His promise that sustains me. It is the blood of Christ which will restore me.
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[…] the (in)courage site, a post titled Finding Courage in Crisis spoke to my heart about the financial problems we have had for way too long. It gave me courage to […]